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Plan your searches

Getting an overview

During the early stages of your thesis work, you need to get an overview of a given field in order to clarify your research questions, your methods and your general approach. At this point you may find it useful to skim through a few different sources. Some of them will continue to be useful as your project progresses, while others will only be useful at the start.

Finding background information

  • General encyclopedias such as Wikipedia and Store Norske Leksikon cover a wide range of fields and can direct you to the deeper sources.
  • Field-specific encyclopedias (for example International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences) provide thorough introductions. The writers are experts in their own fields and have charted the central literature in overarching
  • Text books from the syllabus and reference lists can stand as an introduction and a guidance to sources that go a little bit deeper.
  • Through the news archive, ATEKST, and the National Library’s digital newspaper service, you get access to the Norwegian social debate. Both archives are available in most libraries in Norway.
  • Official information such as reports, government white papers and statistics, are easily accessible on the internet, for example see www.regjeringen.noStatistics central agency, the World Bank, or the OECD.

Locating scholarly literature

Once you have read up on the subject and the research question begins to take shape, there will be a need for information that goes deeper. The academic environment expects you to use scientific sources as the basis for the task. Articles in peer-reviewed journals are the most important entrance to scientific texts, in addition to textbooks. That a journal is peer reviewed means that the manuscript has been reviewed by experts/professional consultants prior to publication.

Selecting databases

You will have access to databases covering a wide range of disciplines through the libraries’ websites (UiO, UiB, HiB, NHH). A database is an electronic archive that contains different types of sources. Some databases are interdisciplinary, while others only cover a specific field. The field-specific databases provide better coverage of the literature in that field compared to the more general databases. Familiarize yourself with the databases that are relevant to your subject. Keep in mind that no databases cover everything. They overlap and complement each other. Therefore, it is important to use multiple databases to get an overview.

Below you will find a range of interdisciplinary databases that can be a good starting point for searching before moving on to the field-specific databases:

  • Oria is the research library’s search tool. Here you will find, among other things, textbooks, master theses, dissertations and journal articles.
  • Google Scholar is the academic version of Google. It is searching for scientific literature from reputable publishers and research-based databases.
  • The article database Norart provides an overview of Norwegian and a selection of Nordic journal articles. The archive covers both popular science periodicals and scientific journals, so you need to make a critical assessment yourself.
  • Idunn covers journal articles from journals published at the university publishing house. It is available in most libraries in Norway.
  • The publishing archive NORA and databases such as Cristin (Current Research Information System in Norway) gives you an overview of research activities in the health and institute sector and the university and college sector.

Devising a search strategy

During the searching process, you will encounter an exciting world of knowledge. However, to avoid random and unsystematic searching for literature, you may want to devise a plan for your searching. This can save time and ensure that all the important elements of the research question is included. A good searching strategy should describe which keywords you have used and how these are combined. See more under search techniques.

Last updated: December 13, 2017

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